Little Round Top is hallowed ground; it’s a place where courage, death, and valor met on a bloody hill. It’s a place where the extreme heroic actions of a few, helped extend the reach of freedom for those in bondage. Union men defended that small knoll and their sacrifice literally saved a young nation. Little Round Top served as the last Southern anchor point of the Union Army on the Second Day of the Battle of Gettysburg. If the defending soldiers were overwhelmed by the Confederate forces at this critical location, then the Union Armies Left Flank would fall. The Confederates would then gain the high ground and like dominoes, the Union Army would have toppled upon its self. If the Union Army was routed at Gettysburg in the Northern State of Pennsylvania, Confederate General Robert Lee would be free to march his Army south uncontested and force President Lincoln to capitulate to the Confederate Cause.
On the early morning of July 2, 1863, the high ground on the Union Force’s far left flank laid undefended from an impending Confederate attack. Without orders and on his own initiative, Union Colonel Strong Vincent, knowing the vital importance of the position ordered his Third Brigade to occupy and defend the high ground at a small hill called Little Round Top. The order to secure this vital position was given to the 20th Maine Volunteers Commanded by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Only a year previous, Colonel Chamberlain was a Professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine. He spoke more than 8 languages fluently but had little military experience and only became the Commander of the Infantry Company a month previously. Colonel Chamberlain was given the order from Colonel Strong Vincent to, “hold the ground at all hazards”. Within minutes of taking their positions on that little rocky hill, the 20th Maine was attacked by the 15th Alabama, Commanded by Colonel William Oates. Multiple attacks by the Confederates were thrown up that hill and were repulsed by the Union Troops. After each attack, the Confederates shifted their forces to flank and overwhelm the 20th Maine. After many assaults on their position, Union Forces found themselves stretched thin and without ammunition to defend against another attack. Colonel Chamberlain’s orders were clear, there was to be no surrender. Without hope of reinforcements, little ammunition nor men to hold the line, the situation was dire. At that moment, the Professor from Bowdoin College gave the order to those left in his Command to equip bayonets. With no other options available, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain issued the order to attack down the blood drenched hill. This action served to confuse and disorient the Confederate Forces and turned the tide of the battle. The Confederate forces never recovered from the Chamberlain’s bayonet charge and were driven from the field saving the high ground and the Union’s left flank.
Colonel William Oats, Commander of the 15th Alabama Infantry who lost half his force on that gory day explained, “the dead literally covered the ground”. Union Army Colonel Strong Vincent who ordered the defense of Little Round Top was mortally wounded while rallying his men. He was promoted to General while on his death bed before succumbing to his wounds. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain survived the three-day Battle of Gettysburg and continued to lead men into battle. At the Second Battle of Petersburg, Colonel Chamberlain was severely wounded and was suspected to die of his wounds and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He even out maneuvered death and survived the wound to live till age 85. After the war he served as the Governor of Maine as well as President of Bowdoin College.
The History that can still be felt at Little Round Top is palatable to the senses. Take the time to wonder the many monuments dedicated to all that fought there. My suggestion is to read the book “Killer Angeles” by Michael Shaara. Its not a long read but is informative beyond measure and written in such a way that is pure historical bliss. Reading the book will help you acclimatize yourself to the many facets of the Battle of Gettysburg and will give you additional information to help you more enjoy your visit.
Incredible Museums should be cherished and loved; Motorcycle Museums should be memorialized. I would call Barber Motorsports Museum a Two Wheeled Shrine of epic proportions. Plan a trip there if feasible and make it a priority.
Our everyday Heroes do not get the recognition they so deserve. These giants among men deserve to be celebrated; their stories should be shared with others. Their courage, triumphs, struggles and tenacity should serve as a moral compass for others to follow. Personally I have many heroes that have made a difference in my life and helped enhance my world view. From my mother who always supported me too Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who commanded the 20th Maine and saved the Union Army at Little Round Top during the battle of Gettysburg.
Today I wanted to discuss my Motorcycling Hero, his name is Pierlucio Tinazzi. In 1999 in the mighty Alps of Italy lies the Mount Blanc Tunnel. At the time, Pierlucio Tinazzi, was a security guard with the primary duties of keeping traffic flowing through the tunnel. When he heard fire alarms from the tunnel he jumped onto his BMW K75 Motorcycle and headed into the flames. Tinazzi made numerous trips into the fires that day, each time leading wayward victims to safety on his motorcycle. On his 5th trip into the depths of the inferno, he came across an unconscious truck driver who he could not get on his motorcycle to drive to safety. Instead of leaving the unconscious man, he dragged him into a fire safe room within the tunnel system hoping that they could survive the blaze. Unfortunately, the fire lasted for more than 30 days and both perished under Mount Blanc. Pierlucio Tinazzi was credited for saving 12 people that fateful day on his motorcycle. His courage under duress is praiseworthy but his conviction to save others in need is implausible. His actions that fateful day are heroic and are a credit upon our two-wheel lifestyle.
Do any of you have a Motorcycling Hero?
I Took This Photo and Still Can Not Figure Out Why I Like It
Are you obsessed with motorcycling? Take the short test below to see where you fall in the Motorcycling Obsessive Compulsive Data Metrics Scale or (MOCDMS). The test is easy to complete. Just answer Yes or No to each question below. At the end of the questionnaire count the number of “Yes” Answers and correspond your result to the MOCDMS Result Metric at the end of the test.
TwoTireTirade is not responsible for future symptoms and or treatments of your Motorcycling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder nor is TwoTireTirade certified by any medical or physiological organization. The research used in the MOCDMS was not done in the conjunction with the American Psychological Association.
Please see the twelve Questions immediately below and remember to be honest in your answers. You will only answer Yes or No to each question listed. Falsely answering questions may lead to an inaccurate data result.
- Have you ever just drove your motorcycle on a major highway to weave in and out of traffic?
- Do you gaze at helmets for long periods of time like others do fine art?
- Do you know what “Farkle” Means?
- Do you know why Motorcyclist often have bells on their cycles?
- Have you debated the benefits of Leather Jackets verses Synthetic Jackets?
- Can you define what the “Tail of the Dragon” means?
- Would you rather ride in the Rain on a Motorcycle rather than be dry in a car in the same conditions?
- Do you know what the term “Cage” Refers to?
- Can you describe in general terms what the concept “Counter Steering” means?
- Do you believe that Lane Splitting should be legal in all 50 States?
- Do you know how to avoid a “Yard Shark Attack”?
- Does your spouse/friends/family roll their eyes whenever you bring up Motorcycling due to the fact that they are just tired of your rants on the subject?
Please tally your Yes Responses to the above questions and correspond your Results to the Data Metrics Below:
Number of Yes Responses
0 – 4 Yes Responses
No need for medication or therapy at this time. You are not at all fascinated by the motorcycling culture and should feel perfectly secure in the fact that you’re normal.
5 – 8 Yes Responses
You have dipped your toes into the world of motorcycling but have not dived in head first. There is hope for you to maintain your status as being part of the social norm. It is recommended that you stay away from motorcycle oriented retail operations and other motorcycle friendly establishments to curve your future motorcycle urges. We recommend that your refrain from adrenaline enhancing behavior which may lead to ugly thoughts of life on two wheels.
9-10 Yes Responses
You have issues and should seek immediate medical and or psychological treatment. You have been overtaken by the Philosophy of Life on Two Wheels. It will be a long hard road to get back to a normalized life. You constantly think of motorcycling and plan the majority of your social interactions around your motorcycling life style. The majority of your free time is spent dwelling about future motorcycling trips and or on plans to enhance your cycle. Motorcycling has dramatically changed your life and has affected the relationships between you and your friends and family. You have lost productivity at work because of your dependence on motorcycling. Motorcycling is becoming you and you are desperately in need of professional help.
11 – 12 Yes responses
You have Terminal Motorcycling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; for you there is no hope. At this time, your best bet is to dive head first into your obsession and let it consume you to the bitter end. Indulge in a new bike and or buy another cycle for your collection. Given your horrific mental condition, ride hard and ride often. Don’t toil over needless worries and ride free. Dream big and live bigger. Let no one diverge you from your passion and surround yourself with others whom suffer your same affliction. As they say, misery loves company.
This community service has been provided by TwoTireTirade. Leave me a comment and let me know how you did on the test.
A few days ago, I got my cycle out for a short jaunt. It was a sunny February day and the snow had melted and there was no ice on the roads, it felt safe to ride. Given the melancholy bleakness of winter, it felt like a hot summer August day. Weather can be a matter of perspective. I went to school in Buffalo, NY where it rained and or snowed 6 days of the week. Snow drifts the size of houses are a normal occurrence in Western, NY and the snow will last from November through March. This Sunny February day felt like the Bahamas but the reality was that it was about 40 degrees.
It felt good to ride again. I recently did a bunch of maintenance on my ride and she felt nimble and ready to pounce. As I was rounding a corner, I saw a golf course sprinkler system watering the greens. There was a brisk westerly wind pushing tiny droplets of water away from the golf course and onto the road. I automatically knew that given the temperature outside that the mist accumulating on cold tarmac would translate into a caustic situation. The fact that I was riding on a brand new front tire did not help the situation (Always Be Careful on New Tires). I was already in the curve and without thinking, I tried to upright my bike before going into the wet pavement because I felt that it may be ice. I am not right often but this time I was, that golf course sprinkler mist turned that corner into black ice carnage.
As soon as I hit the patch of water, I felt my tires sliding out of control and that is when my brain went into slow motion. It’s like you’re thinking in normal speed but everything in your environment is moving at a snail pace. This has not happened to me since Iraq. In combat situations, sometimes things just slow down. Do you remember in the movie Saving Private Ryan when Tom Hanks is on Omaha Beach on D-Day and everything just goes in slow motion, that is what it was like.
The funny thing is the first thought in my mind was the safety of my new Bell Helmet. It’s such a gorgeous helmet and the thought of it bouncing off the road chipping paint was just to horrific to contemplate. Then I thought of wanting steak and eggs with white toast, eggs done over easy fashion. Then I pondered my wife’s reaction, she would be so angry at me. I imagined being in a coma and having my wife lecture me for 43 hours straight on the dangers of motorcycling. Trapped in a coma listening to anti motorcycling propaganda sounded almost as bad as damaging my new slick painted retro lid. My last thought I remembered was hoping the dogs would be ok outside if I did not make it home till my kids got back from school. The beasts are inside dogs and it was a little chilly and hoped they would not be cold.
Then as soon as it happened the cycle righted its self and I was off the ice driving safely forward. The moment lasted less than a second but it felt like 4 minutes.
After further reflection, I am not sure about my contemplative priorities while getting ready to crash on the motorway. Luckily the crash never happened but it makes me think that we could all be only one second away from a life changing moment. Cherish the time you have on two wheels when you can get it and always let your loved ones know how much you care for them.
I don’t fear crashing as much as I fear not being able to ride.
Have you ever noticed the fact that motorcyclist tend to be individuals that normally diverge from the status quo. When everyone else goes straight down the road of life, motorcyclist travel a different path. We tend to have eccentric demeanors. Our focus is not laser pointed unless were deeply entrenched into a journey on two wheels. What we lack in focus we gain in individual perspective. Motorcyclist may lack money and fancy houses but we have awesome stories of phenomenal substance.
Motorcyclist have a profound appreciation of life outside societal norms. We tend to believe in hard work and dedication to family but our minds drift through the surreal in search of harmony and bliss. The ride is not just about speed and adrenaline, it’s about searching our senses and our environment in a quest to find what is real in this life. Don’t get me wrong, I love the wondrous views and the remote sense of fear as I take that curve a little too quick but it’s more than that. It’s about finding our own path and dictating our own terms in a world where individual thought is discouraged. Our continual search takes us all too a different spectrum of our environment. Our quest will never lead us to the same answers, were just too darn individualistic to share that same route.
I have been working so much lately in an effort to do what is right for my family. I have no issue with my job but sometimes I feel that maybe it takes me away from what is real about life. In Denver, we have a huge homeless problem. Some of these folks are surely caught up in despair and bad luck. The gruesome cycle of poverty is no joke and I feel fortunate that I am still able to work and support my family. With that said, every once in a while as I pass a person I think is homeless and they look at me and I swear THEY THINK, “you look at me like I am homeless but you’re the one I pity. I may have no wealth or monetary substance but you are living a life of real poverty.” I never want to be homeless. I write this while camping in the mountains of Colorado in January. Its bloody cold out, my fingertips feel like little rocks as I type away at the keys. My hands and digits are stone cold and I shiver as my toes ask warmth but there is none to be found. I camp in the cold typing on my laptop knowing that I have a warm home awaiting me after my winter camping festivities which provides me eternal security beyond recognition. Homeless people do not have this option and this simple tragedy keeps me awake at night. Wow, I never want to be homeless and cold with nowhere to go. Most homeless surely do not want to be in their predicament and are looking for solutions to meet their immediate needs. I grieve for these individuals and hope they can find warmth and security. As bad as being homeless may be, is it possible that a few people choose to be homeless? We live such complicated lives and through simplification of our environment our minds become less cluttered with problems and worries. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” I believe that there are a few individuals that choose this life style. These few persons, give up everything in their search for an answer. It’s an ALL IN Approach in their path to find knowledge. This is a journey I never want to follow but I respect their conviction and courage.
One of the best books of insight I ever read was a novel called Siddhartha. It’s a spiritual word fest of enlightenment. When I was younger, this book answered many of my questions about what makes an individual truly rich. I still very much respect this book for its wisdom but I have found in my declining years that answers of this magnitude can never be answered by a book but must be answered by the individual seeking guidance in the matter. The answers are all relative and change with every individual. I believe that books will never truly answer our questions but are needed to help us find wisdom so we can answer those questions ourselves.
Wow that was a tangent, I think I finally have succumbed to hypothermia. My toes are now numb and silenced. My hope is that I may be able to thaw them in my car. My fingers are now in a frozen state and lack the manual dexterity to hit the correct keys. It’s their way to punish me for writing in the snowy cold mountains in the middle of the night without any heat. One last thought, I do believe that there is something about riding that helps us open our minds to answers and wisdom. Maybe it’s a Zen Like state comparable to meditation that our minds transcend to while riding? All I know is that mind works differently when riding in a positive way and for that I am thankful.